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Sexual Harassment Claims Against Alexie

Sexual Harassment Claims Against Alexie
March 13
09:01 2018

The #MeToo movement has empowered women to speak up about sexual harassment.

The movement has ensnared one-time Hollywood untouchables, prominent politicians and revered sports heroes.

And now it has come to Indian Country.

Famed Native American author Sherman Alexie (Couer d’Alene/Spokane) has been accused of sexual harassment by a Seattle-based author and freelance journalist.

While denying the charges from Litsa Dremousis, Alexie admitted that the two had a consensual relationship.

In issuing a statement Alexie also seemed to acknowledge that “there are some women telling the truth about my behavior.” He did not go into detail about what behavior he was referring to.

But, Dremousis was making “accusations, insinuations and outright falsehoods” against him, Alexie said.

Since she made her allegations public Dremousis – who calls herself a former friend of Alexie’s – said she has heard from nearly two dozen women who claim that Alexie made unwanted advances or threatened their careers if they rebuffed him.

For some, the backlash against Alexie is a case of the chicken coming home to roost.

For years there have been rumors of Alexie’s poor behavior.

When she was working in public relations for the Smithsonian Institution in 1995 Liz Hill was excited to meet Alexie, who was promoting his literary breakthrough, “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.”

Without apology Alexie arrived 45 minutes late for his presentation. But Hill, who is native herself, was appalled at the way Alexie disparaged other natives that are not full-blood. He seemed to suggest that those with partial native blood were inferior to full-bloods.

“I remember him talking about mixed blood people being less than full blood, and I’m mixed,” Hill said. “I remember being so embarrassed because I honestly thought he was talking to me.”

Still she remained behind to get her book signed by the author. She remembered that Alexie was abrupt and rude to her.

Hill went home and threw away her copies of Alexie’s books.

Among those in the literary world that have spoken out against Alexie’s behavior is Debbie Reese, editor of the blog “American Indians in Children’s Literature.”

Reese said she has removed Alexie’s image from her gallery of Native writers and illustrators and has begun removing his name from any posts published on her website.

“Based on private conversations I have had, I can no longer let his work sit on AICL without noting that he has hurt other Native writers in overt and subtle ways, including abuse, threats and humiliation,” Reese said.

She said she has learned that Alexie has undermined aspiring Native authors and fed mainstream expectations about Native people.

“Far too many people adore him and think that they’re hip to Native life because they read his books,” she said. “If you’re one of those people, please set his books aside. Read other Native writers. Don’t inadvertently join him in hurting other Native writers.”

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